British American Tobacco has launched its latest Sustainability Focus Report, Supporting Farmers’ Livelihoods: The Opportunity, which highlights what it says is ‘the important role’ played by the 100,000 tobacco farmers who supply the company.
According to a note posted on its website, BAT says the report proposes a new approach to agricultural policy decision making that will help governments ensure farmers can ‘continue to thrive’.
“We have a long and proud history in agriculture, working directly with farmers around the world,” said chief executive, Nicandro Durante.
“Tobacco leaf is the most essential part of our product, so the farmers who grow it are absolutely crucial to the success of our business.”
In recent years there had been considerable debate about the social, environmental and economic impact of tobacco growing, the note said. And governments were right to look at the impacts of growing tobacco or any other commercial crops.
The report proposes five new core principles which BAT believes can help guide governments’ approach to future policy decision making:
* ‘Evidence-based – driven by market dynamics and based on sound research and scientific evidence;
* ‘Holistic – adopts a broad approach, understands tobacco is part of a mixed agricultural system and acknowledges initiatives already underway to avoid duplication;
* ‘Respectful of livelihoods – prioritizes farmers and their communities, ensures farmers continue to be free to choose which crops they grow;
* ‘Inclusive – allows the whole tobacco growing supply chain to participate in decision making, is consultative and does not restrict the tobacco industry’s existing support for farming communities;
* ‘Locally relevant – considers local political, economic and environmental factors, gives precedence to local implications or priorities and finds practical, workable solutions.’
“The farmers we work with are valued business partners,” said Durante. “We want them to feel confident about their future and to be self-sufficient and prosperous…
“This is a pragmatic, commercial approach to securing our supply chain and ensuring the integrity and quality of our products to satisfy our consumers. I’m committed to a future where all our farmers have the resources they need to be successful and to ensuring farming communities can thrive.”
British American Tobacco buys more than 400,000 tonnes of tobacco each year from more than 100,000 contracted farmers and third party suppliers around the world.